Waterproof Controls

Confused about performance ratings? We often see specs such as IP-65 associated with electrical parts in catalogs and on web sites. We are no exception. We sometimes use IP designations to tell you how well our products withstand environmental conditions such as dust and water. First, I'll discuss what the ratings mean, then I can tell you how we test some of our products and how they measure up.

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IP Ratings

Here, IP stands for ingress protection. No, we're not talking about Internet Protocol, which is another common use of the abbreviation. We're talking about hardware performance standards formalized by the International Electromechanical Commission (IEC) used to rate a device's ability to operate under certain environmental conditions. For instance, a switch that allows dust to get inside and block or erode the contacts would have a low IP rating. Water is the other environmental factor addressed by the IP rating system.

Generally, the IP designation consists of the letters "IP" followed by two digits. The first digit (0-6) stands for protection from intrusion by solid materials like dust, loose parts, even fingers and other body parts, while the second digit (0-8) is about water intrusion. Table 1 illustrates what the most common IP ratings mean.

Table 1 - IP ratings for water (2nd digit)
IP Level Condition Test For Duration
0 Not protected    
1 Dripping water - ie. 0.04 inches rainfall per minute No harmful effects from dripping water. 10 min
2 Dripping water - ie. 0.12 inches rainfall per minute No harmful effects from dripping water when tilted up to 15 10 min
3 Falling water - 0.185 gpm No harmful effects from falling water when tilted up to 60 5 min
4 Splashing water - 2.6 gpm No harmful effect from water splashing against the enclosure from any direction 5 min
5 Low-pressure water hose - 3.2 gpm No harmful effects from water sprayed from any direction. 3 min
6 Hi-pressure water hose - 26 gpm No harmful effects from water sprayed from any direction. 3 min
7 Immersion up to 1m No harmful effects from immersion in water up to 1m. 30 min
8 Immersion beyond 1m The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions specified by the manufacturer. Continuous

Terms like "waterproof" are vague and can be interpreted in different ways. The IP standards offer a more definite way to qualify how a part will perform under specific conditions. A part rated IP00 offers no protection from solid or liquid intrusion, but may still be useful in a clean, dry setting. On the other end of the spectrum, a part rated IP69 could be expected to work reliably under water.

Okay, you're probably thinking I don't make submarines, so why do I care? More typically, the conditions you are concerned with are outdoors, where dust and water are common, and indoor locations that may have to withstand frequent cleaning or getting sprayed with a hose. Vehicles work on dusty roads and in driving rain and have to endure high pressure spray in the car wash. Such applications all need components rated to withstand tough, wet conditions.

The products we manufacture and the components we use are designed for reliability. Whether they are tested by an outside agency, or in-house, using our own performance qualification (PQ) validation protocols, our ISO9001:2008 certification is your guarantee that Gama Electronics' products will perform as advertised.

Waterproof Switches

We stock waterproof rocker and push button switches in several configurations. Options include illumination and momentary or maintained action.

Waterproof Remote Controls

The majority of our RF remote controls are built to withstand at least IP64 environmental conditions. Although not a stock item, we have designed and built one RF transmitter that is IP64 rated. All remote control receiver and transmitter designs can easily be integrated into your own products. Contact us for details.